“Jesus used places like a well to reach people,” says Jonny Damon, the director of operations at Gateway Church, a Charis Fellowship congregation in Parkesburg, Pa. (E. Scott Feather, lead pastor). “We want to model what Jesus did and put wells on our property.” One well Jonny is referring to is being built as a community park on the church’s 36-acre property.
The vision for the park, named Cowan Park (a nod to the history of the old Cowan Farm that the church currently sits on), came to be two years ago. Jonny and the staff at Gateway were looking for ways to use the church’s large property that the community could enjoy and would also be a launch point for next steps with those who don’t have a church family. The area of Parkesburg is racially diverse and sports are a huge part of the family dynamic. The thought of providing a safe athletic space in the made sense as a next step for local outreach for Gateway.
Starting with a budget of zero dollars, the Lord began to provide for the project from a special offering from the congregation and a generous estate gift all totaling $65,000. Members of the congregation also pulled together to help cut grass, reseed areas, and rearrange landscapes. One family in the church donated an entire playground that is handicap accessible, along with 28 picnic tables. Also, one of the church’s small groups, got together and picked up rocks on the property.
Members of the church are not the only people in the community who are getting involved in helping with the construction of Cowan Park. A few people from the community, who needed community service hours, put together the disc-golf baskets together for the park and also helped with planting over 150 trees. One of the helpers being a college student who ended up being saved as a result.
“We were doing a work day to plant trees and this kid showed up who needed community service hours,” says Jonny. “We prayed for him and the people who would meet him because of the park. About a month later he came to church and asked Jesus into his life.”
In this first phase, Cowan Park will include a large pavilion, fire pits, a 14-acre walking trail, a frisbee-soccer-golf course, and a playground. In the future, the church hopes to be proactive in meeting the felt needs of their community, while adding more “wells” at the park where people can meet Jesus.
Gateway Church is currently awaiting the township to approve occupancy for Cowan Park and is hoping to open for the public sometime this fall.
[Connect:] Send Jonny an encouraging note here. Take a few moments to pray for those who will come to enjoy the park, that they might be connected to God through this recreational tool.